Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 9, 2019

Second woman accuses Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault, Trump announces details of next Kim summit, and more


Second woman accuses Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault

A second woman, Meredith Watson, came forward Friday to say Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) sexually assaulted her. Through her legal team, Watson alleged she "was raped by Justin Fairfax in 2000, while they were both students at Duke University" in a "premeditated and aggressive" assault. She says former classmates have corroborated her account. Fairfax was previously accused of sexual assault by Vanessa Tyson, who says he forced her to perform oral sex at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Fairfax denied both allegations, denouncing Watson's claims as evidence of a "vicious and coordinated smear campaign." He has refused to resign.


Trump announces details of next Kim summit

"My representatives have just left North Korea after a very productive meeting," President Trump tweeted Friday evening, "and an agreed upon time and date for the second Summit with Kim Jong Un. It will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on February 27 & 28. I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim & advancing the cause of peace!" At the State of the Union address Tuesday, Trump mentioned Vietnam as the location of the meeting but did not offer further details. In a second tweet Friday, Trump said Kim's leadership would make North Korea "a different kind of Rocket - an Economic one!"


Acting AG Whitaker testifies he has 'not interfered' with Mueller probe

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, where he insisted he has "not interfered in any way" with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's involvement with Russian election interference. Whitaker did not directly answer Committee Chair Jerry Nadler's question about whether he has "ever been asked to approve any action or request to be taken by the special counsel," but said he has "not talked to the president about the special counsel's investigation." Whitaker has faced criticism for not recusing himself from Mueller's probe after publicly questioning its validity.


Roger Stone objects to possible gag order

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office said Friday it would support a "narrowly-tailored" gag order for Roger Stone, President Trump's longtime adviser and friend who last month was indicted by Mueller's team on seven counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, witness tampering, and making false statements. "The order would be supported by a finding that there is a substantial likelihood that extrajudicial comments by trial participants will undermine a fair trial," Mueller's team said. Stone objected to the proposal via his attorneys, arguing his social media presence is smaller than Kim Kardashian's and that public comment is his job.


Warren to formally launch 2020 campaign

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is expected to formally launch her 2020 presidential campaign Saturday at an event in Lawrence, Massachusetts, north of Boston. She will likely focus on her populist economic platform, highlighting issues of income inequality and workers' rights. Lawrence boasts a "history of working people coming together to make change, where the fight was hard, the battle was uphill, and where a group of women led the charge for all of us," Warren said in a video announcement. After her launch event, she will spend the rest of the weekend in early primary states New Hampshire and Iowa.


Feds investigating Bezos' accusation of blackmail by National Enquirer

Federal prosecutors are examining whether the National Enquirer's publisher, American Media Inc., violated a cooperation deal with its alleged attempt to blackmail Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. AMI had previously signed a non-prosecution deal with the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office under which the company agreed to "commit no crimes whatsoever" for three years. Bezos claims AMI threatened to publish private photos of him and his mistress, Lauren Sanchez, if he didn't stop an investigation into how the publication obtained text messages between the two. Authorities are reviewing whether AMI's handling of the matter constitutes extortion.


Trump inaugural committee may have overpaid for space at Trump hotel

Federal investigators scrutinizing President Trump's inaugural committee have discovered it paid the Trump International Hotel a rate of $175,000 per day for event space, a WYNC/ProPublica report revealed Friday. Tax laws prohibit nonprofits from paying above-market rates to private entities, and Trump's control over both organizations could be problematic. Committee members reportedly complained the $175,000 rate was far too high, suggesting a reasonable price would be $85,000 per day or less. Prosecutors in New York in December launched a criminal probe into whether Trump's inaugural committee misspent its record $107 million haul.


Trump declared in 'very good health' after annual physical exam

White House physician Dr. Sean Conley on Friday reported preliminary results of President Trump's annual physical exam, which was completed earlier that day. "While the reports and recommendations are being finalized, I am happy to announce the president of the United States is in very good health," Conley said, "and I anticipate he will remain so for the duration of his presidency, and beyond." Trump was given recommendations to change his diet and exercise regime after last year's physical found he was close to obesity. The president "admits he has not followed [those recommendations] religiously," the White House said.


Thai king opposes his sister's campaign for prime minister

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Friday said a bid by his sister, Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, to serve as the country's prime minister would be "inappropriate" and unconstitutional. The Thai royal family traditionally stays out of electoral politics, and "though she has relinquished her royal titles in writing," the king said, his sister "maintained her status and carried herself as a member of the Chakri dynasty." Ubolratana was nominated by the Thai Raksa Chart Party, which opposes the military junta that took power via coup in 2014, including current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.


Actor Albert Finney dies at age 82

Actor Albert Finney, known for films like Skyfall, Tom Jones, Erin Brockovich, and Murder on the Orient Express, "passed away peacefully after a short illness," his family confirmed Friday. He was 82. The Oscar-nominated actor debuted in 1960's The Entertainer, and his career continued through The Bourne Ultimatum in 2007. He won several BAFTA and SAG awards, along with multiple Golden Globes. "We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Albert Finney," the British Academy wrote on Twitter. "Finney will be warmly remembered for his powerful performances."


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